Friday, July 26, 2013

More Musings on the Senate



I really didn’t want to go on about the Senate again, but they’re in the news again. 

Former Liberal Senator Mac Harb it seems has never actually lived in the house that he has been claiming as his “primary residence”.  This puts him one step down from Mike Duffy who at least visited his cottage from time to time.  To add to this, the RCMP are saying that the house as it stands is unliveable and that Harb doesn’t even “own” the house, just 1% of it.

Now I’m not sure about how things like that are done, but I’m willing to bet that the one per cent is worth over the $3000.00 in real estate that Senator are required to own in the province they represent.

Let me go on the record right now, as an unrepentant left wing loony (or weenie) (even though I still maintain I’m nearer to the centre of the political spectrum) if Mac Harb has done wrong, Mac Harb needs to pay the price.

Just the same as Mike Duffy and any other Senator who want to play loosey goosey with the rules, they need to pay the price as well.  If you are defrauding the people of Canada, there’s a new home waiting for you courtesy of the court system.  And yes, you get your day in court before you get your new digs, just like any other Canadian.

Now the really ugly part of all this is that the former Senate Government Leader Marjory LeBreton would have been happy to just paper over the alleged sins of these and any other Senators as long as they paid back their ill gotten gains.

Listen Marjory, between this and the fact that you say you are 100% behind Harper in his efforts to “improve” the Senate, well this  shows why you and your compadres in the Senate are among the least qualified people to have sitting in judgement of how the Senate should be remade.  Let’s face it, you’re giving lickspittles a bad name.

The other people who may be even less qualified to meddle with the Senate are the ones who sit in the Lower House.  That includes Harper and Mulcair and Trudeau.  All three have a vested interest in grooming the Senate to what they perceive to be their needs and couldn’t give a rap for what the country needs.

Look, over 140 years ago, when the Fathers of Confederation were wrestling with what our system of Government should be and how it should work, there was a lot of thought, effort, and debate on how the Senate should work.

There was a great deal of concern over how we should be represented in the Senate.  Some favoured representation by population but others were concerned that a large province could dominate both the Lower and the Upper House.  Eventually they agreed to a regional balance.  Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes would have the same number of Senate seats to balance the number of seats in the House of Commons which was a rep by pop legislature.  This regional representation carried on when it was eventually decided the Western Provinces should have a similar number of Senate seats.  The only imbalance occurred when Newfoundland joined Confederation and was assigned their 6 Senate seats.

While this was being hashed out, the other decision was whether Senators should be elected or selected and how long they should sit for.  The argument in favour of electing Senators was that they would be more responsive to the people they represent, the counter argument was that an elected Senate would justly demand equal right of representation and equal power as the House of Commons, having the same mandate to represent the people.

In the end they decided to create what for the most part we have today.  Similar to, but not entirely the same as the system used in the UK.  Thankfully we didn’t have a true aristocracy at the time or we could have had Senators being given their seat because it was their Daddy’s before them.

All three major parties have tipped their hands to what their particular vision of the Senate should be today.  Mulcair wants to throw it away, Trudeau wants to basically leave it as it sits, and Harper wants to elect Senators and then strip them of their power to do anything.

Our system is not perfect, no system is, but it works Okay most of the time.  And we don’t suffer the gridlock that our Southern neighbours do and that they have experienced in Australia as well. 

If you want to point at Harb, Duffy, and the other problem children we have in the Senate as a reason to change it, I’ve got a couple of points for you to think on.

Out of the 105 Senate seats we have in Ottawa, only a few have problem children occupying them right now.  That is a pretty darn good average if you ask me.

Of the handful of miscreants we do have in the Senate today, 3/4ths of them were appointed by Lord Stephen… the guy who promised that he would not appoint an unelected Senator.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t think the Senate is perfect.  Our whole system has flaws, but it has worked reasonably well for over 140 years.  If we do need to roll up our sleeves and muck about in the workings of the Senate, it is far too important a job to trust to partisan politicians.  We’ll need to have outsiders look at it, give us an estimate, and then we’ll decide whether to let them have at it or not.

When Sir John A. and the rest were setting up our system of Government, they had partisan feelings too.  But they also had a vision.  It wasn’t a simple “good for our party” vision, it was to build a country from scratch.  They were able to reach beyond partisan politics and reach compromises because they realized that the future of Canada was at stake.

It still is.  And I don’t trust any of those partisans in Ottawa to reach across the aisle and work towards a better Canada.  At least not where the Senate is concerned.

Cheers! BC

Maybe sometime soon I’ll go into the different views on the Senate…

We shall see.  Laters All!

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